Filed under Series The FAM Club
Without a purpose, fasting can be a miserable experience. Therefore, whenever we fast, we should do so for a spiritual purpose. Now there are many reasons for fasting given in Scripture. In chapter nine of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney actually comes up with no fewer than ten benefits of fasting! One reason is found in Ezra 8:21—”Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”
Fasting is humbling oneself before God to earnestly seek something from God. Or as Donald Whitney puts it, “Fasting strengthens our prayer life.” It causes us to realize afresh our need for God; it increases our desperation for God’s grace and intervention; it helps us to remember the true source of our help and sustenance; it seasons our requests with earnestness.
Now, as Dr. Whitney qualifies, “The Bible does not teach that fasting is a kind of spiritual hunger strike that compels God to do our bidding. If we ask for something outside of God’s will, fasting does not cause him to reconsider. Fasting does not change God’s hearing so much as it changes our praying.”
How does it change our praying? “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying…The man who prays with fasting is giving heaven notice that he is truly in earnest” (Arthur Wallis in Whitney).
What family member or friend’s spiritual condition is of the greatest concern to you today? When you fast and pray for them you bring an appropriate “note of urgency” to your prayers. While we are only qualified to come before the throne of grace because of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, fasting is a God-appointed means of expressing our desperate need for God’s help.
Scripture does indeed spread out a feast of grace for “fasters”! Through fasting He brings us to the end of ourselves and to the banquet table of His boundless grace and help in time of need. When we fast and petition our Savior, He hears and He answers our prayers.